Of the eight bands collected under the letter ‘D’ in my main CD collection Del Amitri come second only to Depeche Mode in my affections. I you would like to know how I feel about Depeche Mode I kindly refer you to my previous posts (and ask the question where the Dickens have you been?).
I bought Waking Hours on the back of the success of the single Nothing Ever Happens and first saw the band live in 1989. Their live performance rocked and was a pure joy to witness. I remember as an encore they performed a couple of Elvis numbers. Waking Hours became something of manifesto for my love life at the time and the bitter and twisted lyrics of the songs contained in the album Change Everything in 1992 solidified them in that rare musical pantheon inside my head of bands that spoke to me. Listening to the songs now it is no wonder I was such a miserable sod in the 90s. Del Amitri coupled with Depeche Mode equals some quite gloomy thoughts.
Waking Hours contains no bad tracks and for a long time I thought it fitted into that cliché ‘the first album is always the best’. This was of course before I stumbled across their real first album simply called Del Amitri which makes quite awful listening and is thankfully only a little over 30 minutes of the band struggling to find their identity amongst tracks that sound like a mix between James and Big Country. I wonder what happened between that first album and Waking Hours (apart from them supporting The Smiths). I think perhaps Justin Currie discovered proper booze and got dumped.
Be My Downfall is probably my favourite tune of theirs, closely followed by the almost perfect lyrics of the b-side Whiskey Remorse – a great circular ‘story’ song about wasted wishes. Be My Downfall seemed to tell of a situation that I was stuck in at the time and Whiskey Remorse the anticipated aftermath. Their non-album single Spit in the Rain is also a fave and features the excellent b-side The Return of Maggie Brown. Spit in the Rain was made available for those who missed it on their ‘Best of’ collection A Hatful of Rain. I distinctly recall singing to Spit in the Rain in the dark and swigging spirits after a particular messy break up. Such was the soundtrack to my life.
I saw Del Amitri for the second time about a decade later after my first time with friends in York and it was a far different experience. We were in a seated area miles away from the band and as usual I was with the wrong girl, whereas the first time around I was single. I’m sure if you had asked me at the time which I would have preferred – being single or with somebody even if it was the wrong person – I would have replied that I would have rather not have been alone – a situation the song It Might As Well Be You covers nicely. In terms of singing along to the Dels I find great delight in Tell Her This, the whole of Waking Hours from start to finish and their Scottish World Cup song Don’t Come Home Too Soon – now thankfully with the lights on and nothing stronger than a can of lager.
Third in my affections are The Doors. My interest in the group (and other related matters) blossomed at university and coincided nicely with Oliver Stone’s film and a massive revival for the band. A visit to Jim Morrisson’s grave went I went to Paris for the first time was obligatory and I remember being disgusted by the graffiti on other people’s graves almost as much as the state of the nearby public toilet I had the misfortune to visit.
Obvious favourites from The Doors are Hyacinth House, Hello, I Love You, L.A. Woman, Love Her Madly, The End, When The Music’s Over, and Love Me Two Times. I also like Roadhouse Blues a lot having spent most of my early life thinking it was a Status Quo song (a cover appears on Live! and studio recording on Piledriver). I have to be in the mood for a lot of their other tracks and I am not one of these people who worship Jim Morrison like some kind of Christ figure. I read a few biographies by other band members and he seemed to be a bit of a douche-bag in reality. I think this is reflected reasonably well in the film. Great singer though.
I have been a fan of Daft Punk since hearing Around The World, but was sorely disappointed by their album Homework. I found most of the tracks to go on too long and involve far too much repetition. Length and repetition are definitely features of their music up to and including the otherwise wonderful Random Access Memories which, in part due to Nile Rodgers, is quite possibly their best album. Discovery in 2001 is my second favourite, with Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger being my all-time fave track – I love the way the synthesized vocals merge with the guitar towards the end in a seemingly random break-up of sound like the crackling of funky bacon on a griddle. I say ‘seeming random’ because I have read that Daft Punk are meticulous about the placement of every sound on their albums with a methodology verging on OCD. I also love the Tron soundtrack and feel that without their input the film would not have been half as good as it turned out. It was also great to see them actually in the film and it did not seem incongruous at all to see them on the decks.
I only have one album by The Darkness on CD and that is their 2003 debut album Permission To Land. Like many a rock fan I bought the album on the back of the single I Believe in a Thing Called Love and they were heralded by some as the greatest rock and roll band in twenty years (Kerrang!). Being a massive Queen fan (up to a point which I will discuss later in my posts) I had high hopes that this band would become comparable to rock legends with similar vocal style and overlaid guitar riffs, but a pessimistic part of me seemed to forsee the trouble ahead and a leaning towards ‘novelty’ rather than ‘proper’ rock. Although I have limited the A to Z to CD’s I must mention that I have bought subsequent digital offerings from The Darkness and listen to them regularly and while I am disappointed by certain facets of the band’s performances in the studio to date (their songs will never rival Queen’s for space in my heart) when they get it right they really do rock my boat.
They certainly got it right on the first album. The songs have a playfulness about them while still delivering the powerful punch any rock fan demands. The unashamedly sweary Get Your Hands Off My Woman and Givin’ Up are my favourites, while Love Is Only A Feeling and Friday Night allude to their more melodic melodramatic musings and dare I mention them again, yes I dare, Queen-ish leanings.
I first heard Duran Duran on Top of the Pops and I was constantly exposed to their music coming through my sister’s bedroom door. I think Union of the Snake was one of the first singles she owned. Given how popular they were in my formative years it is very difficult not to like them. I particularly liked The Reflex (another Nile Rodgers collaborative effort) and a View to a Kill. I only have the Decade (Greatest Hits) album, but it gets regular play in my car.
Talking of cars, I can’t remember how I came across The Datsuns. I certainly would have remembered if I had seen them live. I think perhaps it was one of those lucky finds in a music store (remember them?) where I liked the look of the album, listened to a couple of tracks at a listening station and bought it during my ‘I like The Hives’ phase. Harmonic Generator and MF From Hell are my faves; both have brilliant rock vocals and a great indie rockiness to them.
The Divine Comedy is definitely one of those bands that I have to be in the mood for. Songs of Love, The Frog Princess, Becoming More Like Alfie, Something for the Weekend, National Express and Generation Sex are my favourites and I struggle to listen to some of the album tracks without hitting the skip button. Neil Hannon has a distinctive richly toned voice which I like very much, but I find some of the songs a little pretentious and too pompous and bombastic for my liking. I know that Hannon’s tongue is planted firmly in his cheek for most of his songs, but I am not a big fan of silly songs.